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Six of the Reasons Why God Became Flesh December 11, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Christmas, Incarnation, Sermons.
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SIX REASONS GOD BECAME MAN

When Moody went to preach in Scotland he preached for an hour about Jesus one evening. One the way to where he was staying he lamented to the Scotchman with whom he was staying that he had not been able to say all that he wanted about Christ. The Scotchman turned to him after listening for a while to Moody complain and said, “You didn’t expect to tell it all in an hour did you. It would take all eternity to tell about Jesus!”

That explains my title. There are certainly more than six reasons but I only have a certain amount of time, so I want to suggest six reasons to you why God became man and leave the rest for you to search for in the Scriptures for yourself.

A. He became a man so that Israel could have a Messiah (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 4:16-22; Romans 15:7-12).

Mark Reed says “Eating lunch at a small café, I saw a sparrow hop through the open door and peck at the crumbs near my table. When the crumbs were gone, the sparrow hopped to the window ledge, spread its wings, and took flight. Brief flight. It crashed against the window pane and fell to the floor. The bird quickly recovered and tried again. Crash. And again. Crash. I got up and attempted to shoo the sparrow out the door but the closer I got the harder it threw itself against the pane. I nudged it with my hand. That sent the sparrow fluttering along the ledge, hammering its beak at the glass. Finally, I reached out and gently caught the bird, folding my fingers around its wings and body. It weighed almost nothing. I thought of how powerless and vulnerable the sparrow must have felt. At the door I released it, and the sparrow sailed away. As I did with the sparrow, God takes us captive only to set us free” (Leadership, Winter 1994).

B. He became a man so that He could declare (reveal) the Father to us (John 1:14-18).

John points out earlier that Jesus came to his own but his own did not receive him. The end of chapter 3 tells us why. Men were in darkness and loved being in darkness because their deeds were evil.

It is not unusual for people to misunderstand outsiders and Jesus was certainly an outsider. Hiebert in Anthropological Insights for Missionaries tells how “In another part of the world, the missionaries took along a cat as a pet for their children. Unknowingly, they went to a tribe where the only people to keep cats were witches. The locals believed that at night the witches left their bodies and entered the cats, in order to prowl through the huts stealing the souls of the villager. The next morning, those whose souls had been stolen felt lethargic and weak…When the people saw the family cat, they concluded that the missionaries were witches. It did not help when the missionary man got up to preach and said that they had come to gather souls! Nor did it help when the missionary woman washed her hair in the river, and the villagers saw the foam from her shampoo bubble out of her head. Since they had never see soap, they were certain the bubbles were the souls that the missionaries had stolen.”

C. He became a man in order to serve as our access to the Father (Hebrews 4:14-5:10).

Jesus not only came to bring the Father to us, he also came to give us access to the Father. We know that He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” Hebrews tells us that he had to become a man for that to happen. We needed a priest, someone who could go to God for us and provide a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus as man became our High Priest and provided the sacrifice that makes it possible for us to have access to God.

D. He became a man in order to show us how to live our life’s calling (1 Peter 2:21-25).

The liberals like Jesus as example but they think that by following his example we can become righteous. Popular Christianity tells us to ask ourselves WWJD (“What Would Jesus Do”) but this often means is be nice to one another and don’t condemn others. Peter gives us, however, a totality different concept. He says live in a wicked world without complaint against those who hate you. Live as Jesus died because He died so that you and I might live righteously in and before a wicked world.

E. He became a man in order to be exalted above all things (Philippians 2:5-11).

George Truett in his sermon “What If Christ Had Not Come” tells of Napoleon after “it looked like that amazingly brilliant soldier was finished. But in March 1815, barely a year later, he went back to France. He had kept close watch on events transpiring in Europe while he was away and… was aware…of his own personal power and influence over his follow-countrymen…The Emperor sent an army out to capture Napoleon, who alighted from his carriage and advanced toward the army without any army of his own…one lone man against whom an army was sent. He went toward the army quietly, confidently; and when he was near enough, he opened his coat that the bullets of the enemy might reach his heart if they chose to fire. Napoleon quietly said, ‘Frenchman, it is your emperor.’ And they went wild. They kissed his hand, they fell at his feet, they picked him up and carried him on their shoulders, and they shouted until the heavens were filled with shouts: ‘…Long lives the emperor!’

F. He became a man so that He could give His body for us (Luke 22:19; Hebrews 1:9; John 15:13; Romans 5:8). This is why we celebrate the Lord’s Table. God the Son did not pretend to have a body. He didn’t possess another being as demons sometimes do. He didn’t just influence a man through spiritual power. God became man and that included having a body, a body which he sacrificed and it was a sacrifice that made possible the fulfilling of all the purposes for which Jesus was born.

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Steps to Buying a Church (An Apology for the Church) June 4, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Faith, Gospel, Grace Bible Church, Leadership, Local Church, Paul's Life, Redemption, Religion, Sermons.
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STEPS TO BUYING A CHURCH
Acts 20

Every once in awhile a letter with listings comes across my desk from a realty company, that specializes in selling church buildings. I normally glance over it and then file it away in the garbage can. The church we are talking about buying today, however, is not a church building but rather the congregation of Grace Bible Church in Delta Township, Michigan.

A. Christ paid the down payment for us with his blood (verses 21-28). There are two ways mentioned in Scripture in which we find that Christ has purchased believers in Him. The first is mentioned in Ephesians 1:13-14. There it talks about the Holy Spirit being the down payment to us as believers. One day we will receive our inheritance, the glory of God but right now we have the Holy Spirit of God guaranteeing that when Christ comes, what He has purchased will be in His possession.

1. The second way in which we find that Christ has purchased believers is found here in Acts 20:28. Christ purchased Grace Bible Church with His blood (verse 28). Perhaps you did not see the words “Grace Bible Church” in the text; so let me explain why it is that I do. Paul is talking to the elders of the church in Ephesus. He anticipates possibly never seeing them again, so this is a farewell message. He commands them to pay attention to their own spiritual well-being as well as that of the church(es) in Ephesus. They have this position because the Holy Spirit set them over the church of God as shepherds. What church is Paul talking about? The church in Ephesus. What is so important about the church in Ephesus? Christ purchased it with his blood.

Ephesus, however, is not the only church Christ purchased with his blood. There is a church in Delta Township. For over seventy-five years this church has been a witness to Christ. Sometimes a great witness, sometimes not. There have been and there probably still are goats among the sheep or tares among the wheat, perhaps even wolves among the sheep but it is still His church for He has bought it with His blood.

That is why I only baptize people who are joining Grace Bible Church. If baptism is the step that identifies one with Christ and with His body then the believer needs when possible to be baptized by water, by initiation, into the local body of Christ which He has purchased with His blood (sometimes as in the case with the Ethiopian eunuch it is not possible).

2. Our signature is on the contract (verse 21). He has made the purchase, He gives the guarantee through the Holy Spirit but it is not a hostile takeover. We are also involved in this transaction. Through repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ. Note that Paul does not emphasize repentance from sin. You see it is possible to turn from sin without turning to God. It is not, however, possible to turn to God without turning from sin. We hear the message of our sinfulness and of Christ’s paying of the purchase price on the cross and we either turn to Jesus for salvation from sin or we reject it and continue on our way to the lake of fire.

B. We invest ourselves into God’s church (verses 18-20, 28-35). Paul puts it this way in verse 24, “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself.” Paul had this attitude, if the church is worth the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then it is worth my life also. You can invest yourself in morality, in family values, in political justice, in hard work, in caring for the needy, in all that is good and great in this country and if you have not invested yourself into God’s church, you have wasted your life.

Some wonder why I have given so much time to our teenagers. It is simple. They are the generation to which I will give over the leadership of this church. The twenty and thirty-something’s are not here. God, however, has given us a great gift and rather than crying because of what we do not have, let us invest in what we do. We cannot bury our treasure in the ground so that we don’t lose it. Even if we have only one gold coin to invest, it was given to us to invest, wholly, totally, with great risk, but with the hope of a rich return.

In Wheaton, Illinois there was “in front of a house that had a square marble stone with a brass marker in its front yard…On the marker were these words: On This Spot in 1897 Nothing Happened” (from Hans Finzel’s The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make). Let’s not be like that! Let’s invest ourselves in something worthwhile.

1. We choose to concentrate ourselves on God’s people and not on ourselves (verses 33-35). As in Ephesians 1:13-14 Paul mentions that we have an eternal inheritance through Jesus Christ. This inheritance is referred to by him in 1 Corinthians as a building of gold, silver, and precious stones. Paul says, I don’t want your gold and silver, I want to labor so that you will be vessels of gold and silver pleasing to the Lord. I don’t want nice clothes from you but to teach you how to put off the old clothes of unrighteousness and to put on the new clothes of a life that is honoring to God. I don’t want you to provide for my necessities but rather to allow me to strengthen you in your weakness. Paul concentrated himself on God’s people.

2. We choose to risk ourselves totally, getting the message to people (verses 18-20). There are many groups that are willing to sacrifice themselves for each other. We celebrated last week the men and women who were willing to die for their country. Our sacrifice for Christ and His people, however, is to get the message of the gospel to the people. He says I kept back nothing from you, which was helpful (verse 20). I have testified to the gospel of the grace of God (verse 24). I have preached to you the kingdom of God (verse 25). I have declared to you the whole counsel of God (verse 27). This message is worth dying for, it is worth risking ourselves totally so that everyone both in the church and out of the church can have it and understand it.

3. We protect our investment by the wise use of our personnel and time (verses 28-31). The church’s best people are called to watch over the flock. Why? Because the flock is who reaches the city. The church in Jerusalem was most effective in getting out the gospel when the congregation left town and the apostles stayed in Jerusalem. One possible reason why we are not as effective as we could be in reaching the community is that we have gotten the cart before the horse. It is not the pastor that reaches the community but the church that does. If the church does not do it, then how will it get done in any sort of spiritual way?

Allow me to give you a modern example: “Four couples are meeting for a Bible study on a weeknight. They have been getting together for about four months, since three of them had been converted to Christ. One of the laymen in the church has been leading the study…As they launch into their lesson, the phone rings. ‘Is Joe there? Joe is one of the four-month-old Christians. ‘Yes, but he’s busy right now…’ The voice is desperate, ‘Please! I’ve got to talk with him.’ …Joe picks up the phone and listens. ‘OK,’ he says, ‘I’ll come right over.’ Joe comes back to his Bible study group and explains. His business partner wants him to come over and help him. There’s been a marital fight, and the man’s wife is walking out on him…Joe feels he should go and do what he can.
The leader of the study group [agrees]…The Bible study turns into a prayer meeting… [Joe leads] both husband and wife to Christ… [and continues] leading them in a study of the Scriptures. The leader, in turn, had begun to spend a little extra time with Joe to answer some of his questions now that he and his wife were leading new Christians in a study of the Word of God” (from Leroy Eims’ The Lost Art of Disciple Making).

It will also cost us our time. Three years night and day is a long time. That is a lot of prayers. That is a lot of late nights talking and teaching. Paul obviously was used to that grind. In Troas he spoke so long that a fellow went to sleep and fell out the window necessitating a resuscitation ministry by Paul. If we give five hours a week to serving the Lord, his people, and this community we feel like we have given much. Don’t, however, ask yourself if you are giving enough time. Ask am I giving my all.

He paid the price for us. Spurgeon tells how Roman noblemen whose city was surrounded by their enemies the Carthaginians showed confidence in their success in that they bought the land on which their enemies were encamped. When Jesus died for Grace Bible Church, when He paid the price for us, He was confident that what He bought, He would possess. We can also, because of His confidence invest with great confidence in what He purchased with his blood.

Jacob Wrestling with God May 29, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Faith, Genesis, Jacob, Prayer, Religion, Sermons.
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WRESTLING WITH GOD
Genesis 32:22-32

In the evangelical tradition there has long been an emphasis on a “crisis experience.” Sometimes it has been considered crucial to a true salvation experience and often people have a crisis experience when they get saved. In 1865 a fanatical infidel, who had written a book on infidelity, “…was persuaded to attend an old-fashioned camp-meeting. The preacher challenged the people…to give Jesus Christ a fair trial. When he asked for those to come forward who were willing to make the test, [the infidel] went…While riding home, he got down on his knees in the woods and fought the battle out-and Jesus Christ won. [B. H.] Carroll’s life was transformed, and his great gifts were dedicated to Christ.”

Sometimes this crisis experience comes to someone who is already a believer but is plagued by doubts. “[G. Campbell Morgan] went through an eclipse of his faith. In desperation, he locked all his books in a cupboard, secured a new Bible, and began to read it…The result? ‘That Bible found me!’” (both examples are from Warren Wiersbe’s Walking with the Giants).

It should be noted that not everyone has crisis experiences and certainly not every crisis experience comes at the same time in one’s life or in the same way. In Jacob’s life his crisis experience came in a moment of great fear, his brother Esau was coming to meet him, the same brother from whom he had stolen his father’s blessing, the same Esau who had promised twenty years earlier to kill Jacob as soon as his father was dead. Jacob has now taken a step toward reconciliation (32:3-5). The messengers come back with this message, “We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him” (verse 6). Jacob fears now for his life. He divides his company into two groups so that at least some of them might survive and he prays to God for help but he still is fearful. He sends presents ahead to Esau, hoping to appease his anger but he still is fearful. That night he has a crisis experience, he wrestles with God.

A. Like Jacob, even though we have faith in Christ, we still might find ourselves wrestling with God. To have a crisis experience, to be fearful or depressed or doubtful, there is no shame in having a crisis experience.

1. Wrestling with God may happen when you know God’s will but do not know what you at that moment should do (32:1-23). Jacob had been walking with God for twenty years. He had been taken advantage of by his uncle Laban. During those twenty years he had been humbled by God. He tries to do what’s right by reconciling to his brother. And now four hundred men are coming, fully capable of destroying Jacob and all with which God had blessed him. Jacob knew in general that he was in God’s will but he did not know at that moment what he should do. Have you ever been there?

2. Wrestling with God happens when you want God’s will in your life no matter what the cost may be (32:24-32). People who don’t want God’s will done, do not wrestle with God. It wasn’t until Jonah was in the whale that he was willing to do God’s will. We find him wrestling with God in chapter 2 not in chapter 1. There he is simply running.

One of the best examples of someone wrestling with God is our Lord Jesus Christ. He knew God’s will. He may have not known every detail of what would happen during the next twenty-four hours but he knew that he was on his way to die. Yet he was willing to pay the price. The cost was great. The cost was terrifying to Jesus. Jesus faced death with the same emotions that many a man before and afterward faced death with but he was willing to pray the price.

Are you willing to pay the price?

B. When we wrestle with others, we must have God’s help to be blessed (32:26-29). God points out; Jacob has not only prevailed in his wrestling with God but also in his wrestling with men, particularly Esau and Laban. One thing is clear. Jacob prevailed with men because of God’s blessing and not because of his ability or wisdom. Why? Because he was part of God’s royal entourage.

1. We have a position as believers in Christ in a royal family (32:28). That’s what makes the cost worth it. Paul writes in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” God’s blessing is based not on me but on my position in Him.

2. We know from where our help must come (32:29). Will we depend on Him?

“In 1929 [W. E. Sangster] moved to Liverpool (England) where… he pastored [and filled] two churches…[He] went through a deep spiritual crisis…After his father’s death, [his son] found a handwritten ‘spiritual analysis’ buried in the bottom drawer of the desk…It was the record of [a] spiritual conflict…It begins, ‘I am a minister of God and yet my private life is a failure in these ways…’ Then he listed eight areas of defeat. He concluded: ‘I have lost peace…I have lost joy…. I have lost taste for my work….I feel a failure.’ What was the answer? ‘Pray. Pray. Pray. Strive after holiness like an athlete prepares for a race. The secret is in prayer’” (Wiersbe’s Walking with the Giants).

Are you wrestling with God today? Do you want to do God’s will and don’t know how? Tell it to Jesus. You don’t have to wrestle alone. Paul wrote to several churches including in Rome and Colosse and asked those people to wrestle with him. Jacob wrestled alone but it doesn’t have to be that way. Let us wrestle with you.

Mother’s Day Sermon 2012 – Two Wives, Four Mothers, Twelve Sons May 14, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Genesis, God's Goodness, Jacob, Laban, Leah, Mother's Day, Providence, Rachel, Religion, Sermons.
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TWO WIVES ON MOTHER’S DAY
Genesis 29:1-30:24

Erwin Lutzer once “asked a woman about the tattoo on her arm, she explained, ‘My former boyfriend did it-he was an abusive alcoholic.’ …every day she was reminded of the pain in her past. She would have preferred to remove that tattoo, but it was burned into her skin” (from Putting Your Past Behind You by Erwin Lutzer).

A. Many of us come from less than ideal situations, less than ideal families. For many Mother’s Day is a wonderful holiday but for others it brings sad memories and unfulfilled dreams. I doubt that they celebrated Mother’s Day in Jacob’s house, especially before Joseph was born. There were two wives, two concubines, and four mothers in this household. One wife was unloved; the other was for many years childless. The expectations of both women remained for years unfulfilled.

1. Our expectations are not always fulfilled (29:31-30:8).
i. It may be that certain things that we expected in life to happen never came to pass. That is what we have in this passage, especially in the life of Rachel, who wanted a son with all of her heart.
ii. It is also possible that things we expected to be fulfilling left us wanting. Leah had six sons, a mother’s dream in that day, but the pride of having children left her dissatisfied.
iii. It also may be that we had no expectations in life and life gave us exactly what we expected, nothing. Jacob’s handmaids, slave girls fall into this category. They became pawns in the hands of Jacob and his wives and at least in one case, in the hands of Jacob’s oldest son, Reuben (Genesis 35:22).

2. We sometimes try to manipulate the situation (29:15-30; 30:14-16). There are different types of manipulation. Perhaps Rachel tried to use guilt on Jacob to manipulate him to take her handmaid, although in this case he pointed out that the situation was beyond his control (30:1-6). Only God can give children.

3. We must depend on God for solutions (30:17, 22-23). We learn of God’s faithfulness and provision in his Word but the clearest way to depend on God is to flee to him in prayer. “In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, a young woman and her children are seen knocking on the Wicket Gate. In a moment a ferocious dog begins to bark, making the woman and children afraid. They face a dilemma: If they continue to knock, they must fear the dog; if they turn away, the gatekeeper will be offended and they will not be admitted. They continue to knock ever so fervently. Finally, they hear the voice of the gatekeeper asking, ‘Who is there?’ and instantly the dog ceases barking.” Erwin Lutzer comments, “The moment we are serious about prayer, a thousand dogs begin to bark. If we listen to them we will turn away. If we continue to know, we will hear the voice of our Master and we will be encouraged to press on.”

B. God’s plan is not limited by our dysfunction (32:9-12). There is a story of a “beautiful piece of cloth on which some ink had accidentally been spilled[.] Though the ink could not be removed, an artist painted a picture on it and used the blotch as part of the scenery” (adapted from Erwin Lutzer).

1. His expectations are always fulfilled (32:27-28). That is why we should pray according to God’s will, desirous that God’s will be done. “When we pray for a promotion, or that a child will be healed, or that God will give us a marriage partner, the question of the will of God always emerges as a part of the picture. In instances like these we must end our prayer with ‘If it be Thy will.’ On the other hand, there are some requests we can make with absolute certainty that we are praying in His will” (Lutzer).

2. He always controls the situation (45:3-8). “When Edmund Gravely died at the controls of his small plane, his wife kept the plan aloft for two hours. She radioed for help and her distress signal was picked up, but communication was impossible because she kept changing channels. Eventually she made a rough landing, but it would have been so much easier if she had stayed tuned to the right frequency” (Lutzer). God is in control, there is no doubt about that. Are you listening to him?

3. His solutions always good (Joshua 24:1- 13). How long did this take? From the time of Abraham to the time of Joshua was well over five hundred years but God’s solution was good. It was another thousand years before Jesus came but God’s solution was good. It had been two thousand years since Jesus promised that he would return but his solution remains good.

Spiritual Liberty (Galatians 1:1-9 and 5:1ff) February 27, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Crucifixion, Death of Christ, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Galatians, Gospel, Martin Luther, Religion, Sermons, Spiritual Liberty.
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LIBERTY AND FREEDOM
Galatians 1:1-9 with 5:1ff

This letter is one of the most important ever written. Martin Luther’s study of it led him to attempt a reformation of Catholicism. Although unsuccessful in his attempt, it resulted in religious and political changes that transformed Europe and ultimately the world. One might say the political freedom we enjoy today is in part due to changes set in motion by Luther’s study of this little letter.

A. However, spiritual liberty and political liberty are not one and the same. It seems like the political season has been long already but there is much ahead of us and much of it will invoke the terms “liberty” and “freedom.” These are wonderful concepts on which our country was founded. Yet there is a liberty and a freedom that is possible even if one lives in a totalitarian system. Some might say, “Of course, the freedom of the human spirit.” Now the freedom of the human spirit is a wonderful thing but it is limited, as we will see, by the human condition. As with our conscience, as with our knowledge of nature, God has gifted humankind greatly but the curse of the fall has corrupted these gifts of God making them incapable of giving us spiritual liberty and spiritual freedom.

1. Political liberty sees all men as created equal and having the same right to life and liberty. This is a liberty worth fighting for and has often been fought for in our history beginning with the American Revolution right down through the present age.

2. Spiritual liberty also sees all men as equal. They are born equally in bondage to the present evil age (Galatians 1:3-4 and 5:1). This is an equality we would like to overcome. This is what I meant by the human spirit being limited. Occasionally there is someone who seems to be ahead of his time but when we investigate their lives, they are just as much a prisoner of the human condition as the rest of us. They are also in bondage to our sinful condition.

There’s a “legend told of Alexander the Great…It is said that when he was dying at Babylon, Alexander crawled out of his tent on all fours at midnight, intending to drown himself in the Euphrates River. He hoped his body would be lost and that men would then believe that he was, in truth, immortal. But his attempt failed. His wife brought him back to die in his bed…” (from Deliver Us From Evil by Ravi Zacharias).

i. Spiritual liberty comes through deliverance by Jesus Christ (5:1). To be set free from this evil age does not mean to be removed from this world. Neither does it mean to become one with it. Spiritual liberty means to be freed from the impossibility of pleasing God through our own methods. It is not something we work for but rather is granted to us by grace, that is, undeserved. We take hold of the liberty freely offered by faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel.

ii. Spiritual liberty comes through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1:4). One could say that is the gospel. In order for us to be free, Jesus had to be bound in obedience to death.

Jeffrey Ebert of Havertown, PA tells how “when [he] was five years old, before factory-installed seat belts… [his] family was involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver…[He] was sitting on [his] mother’s lap when the other car swerved into [them]…[He doesn’t] have any memory of the collision [but does] recall the fear and confusion…as [he] saw [himself] literally covered with blood from head to toe. Then [he] learned that the blood wasn’t [his] but [his] mother’s. In that split second when the two headlights glared into her eyes, she instinctively pulled [him] closer to her chest and curled her body around [his] smaller frame. It was her body that slammed against the dashboard, her head that shattered the windshield. She took the impact of the collision so that he wouldn’t have to… (after extensive surgery, [she] eventually recovered…)” (from Leadership, Summer 1992). She was obedient to death.

B. To seek deliverance from any other source is the rejection of Christ (1:6-7 with 5:1-4). Paul uses the phrase, “turn away…from him” in chapter one. In chapter five he says, “Christ will profit you nothing…you have become estranged from Christ…you have fallen from grace.” This is pretty harsh language. It means that you have no more contact with Christ, in other words, your only hope of salvation, you have walked away from.

If I try by my good works to guarantee my place in heaven, I have walked away from Christ. If I try by baptism or the Lord’s Supper to be saved, I have walked away from Christ. If I try by keeping the law of God Himself to be saved, I have walked away from Jesus. If I try by being a member of a church to be saved, I have walked away from Christ. When I walk away from Christ, then there is no hope for me (5:5).

C. To preach deliverance from another source brings God’s judgment (1:7-9 with 5:7-10). Perhaps you think God is being too strict. Perhaps it should be enough to want to find God. There is, however, no other source of deliverance.

When Aaron built the golden calf, he said to the Israelites, “Behold, the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt.” Aaron didn’t deny God’s existence or power; he simply brought in a statute to help them visualize their God. God judged them. When Naaman was told to wash himself in the Jordan, he complained that there were other cleaner rivers in Syria to wash in but if he had ignored God’s way, he would have died a leper. Jesus tells about those who say, “Lord, Lord, haven’t we done mighty works in your name;” but his answer to them was depart from me I never knew you.

Some of these people wanted to practice Old Testament rituals like circumcision but Paul makes it clear that those things do not produce a new creation (6:15). That is only possible through Jesus Christ.

Do you point people to Christ or to moral values? Do you introduce them to Jesus or to a church? “There is no other name given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Where is your faith? In Jesus or in your good works? In Jesus or in your baptism? In Jesus or in your church? If one or the other were taken away from you, which would cause you to fear facing eternity? If you lose contact with Jesus, you have no hope. Are you trusting Him alone today? If not, put your trust in the one who died for you.

Next week: The Curse and the Blessings of the Cross

Third in a Series from Isaiah February 13, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Isaiah, Sermons.
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AFTER YOU’VE SAID “YES!”
Isaiah 56:1-8

In chapter 54 God promises hope to those who live in a desperate situation and then in chapter 55 He invites them to come to Him for forgiveness. In these eight verses we see what happens to those who answer the invitation. This is important because not everyone who answers God invitation is transferred immediately into God’s presence. In fact most of us are like Abraham, we are looking for a city not made with hands whose builder and maker is God. So what happens after we accept God’s invitation to come and be forgiven?

A. We accept certain responsibilities when we answer God’s invitation, that is, accepting God’s invitation carries certain responsibilities (verses 1-2).

1. We are responsible to practice God’s justice and righteousness (verse 1). There are two sides of God’s justice and righteousness. The side that we need to look at first is that we as sinners cannot practice God’s justice and righteousness unless God does a work in us. We need to be transformed.

I’m thinking of a man who had no interest in Christ. His wife went to church and took his children to church but he was not interested. He drank way too much. He began to go to Bible studies and hear the Word of God. One Easter Sunday, he heard the message and realized that there was nowhere to go but to Jesus Christ. God put a hunger in that man’s heart for God’s Word. As God continued to work in his heart, he began to drink less and less. One day he was sitting in his living room with a beer in his hand and he said to himself, I don’t want this and I don’t need this. Why did he change his outward behavior? Because God did a work inside of him.

2. We are responsible to practice God’s justice in our actions (verse 2). The specific example given here is the keeping of the Sabbath. The Sabbath, however, could be used improperly. In Isaiah 1:13, God expresses displeasure with the observance of the Sabbath as well as with other ceremonial and sacrificial observances of the law. The reason given (in verse 17) is the propensity for injustice especially toward the oppressed, the orphan, and the widow in Judah. They were observing the Sabbath but not remembering what God had said in the Decalogue (Deuteronomy 5:15), “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” The ritual observance without remembering and practicing of the meaning of the observance is the sin of Judah (Isaiah 1:17) and the joy of observing the Sabbath will be destroyed by judgment of God (prophesied in Hosea 2:11; recorded in Lamentations 2:6).

B. Accepting God’s invitation gives a family to those who have no family (verses 3-5). In fact, later in Isaiah a blessing is promised to those who both keep justice and the Sabbath (Isaiah 56:1-2). This blessing is specifically extended to the eunuchs (verses 3-5) and the foreigners (verses 6-7) who keep the Sabbath and hold fast to the covenant of the Lord. Although eunuchs and certain foreigners had been forbidden to be a part of the assembly (Deuteronomy 23:1-8), they receive mercy when they enter voluntarily into the covenant of the LORD. Again, in a vivid and direct way, those who might not expect to be a part of God’s everlasting covenant with Israel are invited in with open arms if they fulfill the same conditions of the covenant that Israel also were given beginning in Exodus 19-20.

C. Accepting God’s invitation gives us the opportunity to worship God (verses 6-8). Isaiah emphasizes with the eunuch and with the foreigner that God is interested in reaching out to those who are outside of His family and His kingdom. Israel had a lot of trouble with foreigners. They would find themselves compromising their beliefs, adding other gods to their worship to the true God or they would isolate themselves in uncompromising self-righteousness, believing that they are somehow better than others.

This second trouble is a danger for us also. “A Christian worship service is beginning, and two young men come in who are clearly out of place. Their clothes are outlandish and not very clean. Their hair is lank and long. Their arms are covered with tattoos. They are clearly not of the evangelical subculture. Are they earnestly seeking salvation? Are they believers who have left all to follow Christ? Who knows? Who cares? They don’t belong because they are different from us…They don’t have the right family credentials, so they don’t belong” (Oswalt).

1. Worship begins with commitment to God (verse 6). We live as if being a Christian is really only a matter of birthright, of adoption, and has no real impact on how we live. It may change our ideals, but it does not change the realities. Thus, we see the spectacle in North America of persons claiming to be born-again’ Christians whose ethical lives are no different from those of a lost world” (Oswalt).

We tend build our spiritual lives on cheap materials. Years before any had died in the astronaut program, an astronaut was asked before he launched how he felt. “With a grin, [he] replied, ‘It really makes you think twice in here when you realize everything in this whole project was constructed according to the lowest bid!’” (Charles Swindoll in Living Above the Level of Mediocrity)

2. Worship is expressed through the means God provides (verse 7). The Sabbath in Leviticus 23:1-3 was emphasized as more than a day with no work. It was a holy convocation, that is, a day of assembly. This is the same type of assembly that God commanded Israel to observe in relation to the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Compare Exodus 12:16 with Leviticus 23:4-8). Such a day was called together for the purpose of delighting in God (Isaiah 58:13-14).

3. Worship looks forward in confidence and faith (verse 8). There is hope in both the promise of the covenant Leviticus 26:40-45 and in the carrying out of that promise. The removal from the land is temporary and serves a restorative purpose for the land. Ultimately, there is coming a day, as pictured in Ezekiel’s temple description when the Sabbath will again be observed with an understanding of what is holy (Ezekiel 44:24; 45:17; 46:1-4, 12). This ultimate restoration is also described in Isaiah 65:22-23 as the new heavens and the new earth, when “from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh will come to worship before [the LORD].”

First John 2:29-3:9 is the New Testament example of the teaching that we see in Isaiah 56. Are you abiding in Christ? Are you standing strong? Or are you like the world? The world believes that doing the right thing outwardly will outweigh or counteract any inner deficiency. The believer realizes we are helpless against our deficiencies and need to abide in Christ.

Next week: The Blind Lead the Blind – Isaiah 56:9-57:2

Are You Called by God? August 17, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Apostle Paul, Election, First Thessalonians, Grace Bible Church, Sanctification, Second Thessalonians, Sermons, Spiritual Goals, Spiritual Growth.
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ARE YOU CALLED BY GOD?
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Sometimes you hear people say, I do not believe in predestination. A strange thing to say if you are a Bible-believer since the word occurs in the New Testament a half-dozen times. To believe in Christ and not believe in predestination would be like walking in the forest and not believing in trees. Basic to everything we believe is that God is in control. That includes the weather and the financial markets but it also includes God’s great plan for eternity. That bothers us because on some level we all would like to think that God called us to salvation because of something we are or something that we did but it is not so. God’s show of grace and mercy to us through Jesus Christ was part of his plan from the very beginning.

It is clear though that not everyone will be saved, not everyone has been called by God. Now it might seem that you could know whether you yourself have been called by God but can you know about others? Paul certainly thinks so. He says in 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 4, “We give thanks to God always for you all…knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God…” How did Paul know that these people had been called by God (1 Thessalonians 1:2-5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13)? They had believed the gospel of Christ.

Remember who these people were. They were Jews and YWHW-fearing Gentiles who worshiped at the synagogue. Paul and Silas came and preached from the Old Testament Scripture the necessity of the Messiah’s death and resurrection and that Jesus is that Messiah. Before these people had believed that they were the elect of God because of God’s covenant with Israel but now they have come to understand that the elect of God are those who believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah. That was how Paul determined that they were part of the elect. They trusted Jesus.

Now God was not surprised. Second Thessalonians tells us that “God from the beginning chose you for salvation…to which He called you by our gospel…” From the beginning of what? From the beginning of God’s plan for the universe.

For the persecuted church in Thessalonica, it is easy to see how that would be a comfort but how is that going to help us? We are rich! We can go days without praying! We don’t need God!

“We are a lot like Joseph Stalin. He was short-five feet; four inches tall…a childhood accident left his left arm stiff and his hand slightly misshapen. When the dictator commissioned his portrait, he instructed the artist to paint him form his best angle-from below, a perspective that made Stalin seem to tower over the artist. To add to the image, Stalin folded his hands over his stomach, making them appear firm and powerful- like the name he had chosen for himself: Stalin means “man of steel. We put ourselves in the best possible light but simply adjusting the angel of view does not change reality. God’s Word is a mirror that shows our true condition” (Leadership Magazine).

Oh, He knows the truth. We are poor and blind and naked, but He loves us. He is knocking at the door, calling. When we see ourselves as we really are, not evaluating ourselves by earthly blessings but by spiritual needs, then we can answer the call. It is then that we can be identified as one of the elect from the very beginning.

If elected by God also means called by God through the gospel of Christ, what are we when we respond to the call (1 Thessalonians 4:7; 5:23-24; 2 Thessalonians 2:14)? We are sanctified. Now I am throwing out a lot of big words so let’s see if we can clarify what Paul means.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7 Paul writes, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality…that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother…For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” You see God called us out of sin and made us saints. That is what we are and that is how we should live.

That doesn’t mean that we are completely holy. Paul prays in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” In other words, until Christ returns, we need His help to overcome the selfish desires of our heart but He will do it.

How does God accomplish this? Second Thessalonians 2:13-14 tells us how, “…through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth…for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” These verses tell us how and why. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to make us saints so that we might share in the glory of Jesus Christ at His coming.

The Holy Spirit works like this: “If our church copier broke down, I might call the repair shop to see if they could tell me what the problem was and if I could do anything about it. I might discover, however that I don’t even know how to describe what is broken. I don’t know the names of the parts or what they are specifically supposed to do. Perhaps I can’t even describe what is wrong. I just know that the copier won’t work. So the repair shop sends out a technician. While working he calls the shop, just like I did but he or she knows how to describe what was needed. That is what the Holy Spirit does in our lives. He uses the Word of God to sanctify us and to complete that sanctification for we cannot do it ourselves” (Leadership Magazine).

If we are sanctified by the plan of God, by faith in Christ, and by the work of the Holy Spirit, what makes us worthy of our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)? Living up to our calling.

That is why we need spiritual mentors according to 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. Although we are saints and God is working in us; God uses the church around us (and Paul considered himself the spiritual father of this church) to guide us in the right path. In 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, we see that Paul is praying for them to be worthy of the calling. In other words, it is possible to live worthy, appropriately to the calling we have received.

How should you respond to the call of God?
(1) You need to open the door to Jesus Christ. “[In] 1991, 90 year-old Harvey Penick showed a red spiral notebook to a local writer and asked if he thought it was worth publishing. The man read it and told him yes. He left word with Penick’s wife the next evening that Simon & Schuster had agreed to an advance of $90,000. When the writer saw Penick later, the old man seemed troubled…With all his medical bills, he said, there was no way he could advance Simon & Schuster that much money. The writer had to explain that Penick would be the one to receive the $90,000” (Leadership Magazine). What must you do? Open the door. You are poor, blind, and naked before God but Jesus is knocking at the door. Let Him in. Trust Him. Believe on Him for salvation from the wrath to come.

(2) You need to learn to live worthy of the calling. Does your life correspond to your profession? Are you living blamelessly before God? Does your sanctified position reveal itself in your everyday life?
Next week: Looking for the Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 1:1-3:4)

The Last Week of Jesus’ Life (part 1) March 31, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Christ, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Luke, Parables of Jesus, Sermons, Temple.
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JESUS, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
(Luke 20:1-19)

Jesus has just a few days to live. These are his last few days among the people. He must teach them the way of God. The people expect Him to proclaim Himself King of the Jews. Will it happen? Will Jesus overthrow Roman rule and free His people from foreign domination? Is He really the Messiah, the Son of the living God? Most are hopeful but not sure. A few disciples recognize His authority but the rulers of Israel do not.

Jesus has authority over us, whether we recognize His authority over us or not.

1. With what action had Jesus claimed authority from God (19:45-48)? He drove out those who bought and sold in the temple.

Three years earlier Jesus had driven the moneychangers and salesmen out. At that time He had asked why they had turned His house into a house of merchandise. This time His condemnation is even harsher. Why have you turned my house of prayer into a den of thieves? Now the multitude had expected Jesus to be a man of action but this was not exactly what they had expected. I can imagine Judas, the treasurer of the disciples looking at Jesus’ actions and seeing his glorious financial future go up in smoke. No word about revolution against the Romans. No call for the nation to follow Him in battle but rather a condemnation of the dishonest practices of hardworking Jewish merchants who would change Roman coins for Temple coins and charge exorbitant prices for sacrificial animals for those Jews who had traveled from afar to celebrate the Passover. I can hear them say, “Jesus, you are going to need some financial resources if you are going to fight the Romans. You are going to need the backing of the political elite, the priests and the rulers of the people. Jesus, you are cutting your own throat.” Jesus, is challenging the status quo by obeying His Father’s will. The sternness that the Pharisees wanted Jesus to show to His disciples, He is showing to those who have made the worship and service of God into a money making proposition.

2. What three groups were angry with Jesus?
a. The chief priests: they were in charge of the Temple. Jesus was a threat to their position politically, religiously, and financially.
b. The scribes: these were experts in the Old Testament, they not only copied the Old Testament into scrolls by hand but taught the people the truth of the word. Verses 45-47 tell us why they hated Jesus. He exposed their pride and their greed. The scribes were very much among the people unlike the chief priests. Some of them were Pharisees but all of them were experts in the Law of God.
c. The elders: these were the other leaders in Jerusalem. With the only known exceptions being Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, the leaders of the people, regardless of political or religious party, rejected the authority of Jesus as Messiah.

Jesus has good news for us whether we recognize that good news or not.

3. What was the gospel that Jesus preached (compare 20:1 with 9:2, 6)? It was the gospel of the kingdom of God. Jesus is proclaiming Himself as king. Verse 37 tells us that as Jesus approaches the descent from the mountain, the multitude of His disciples started rejoicing and praising God with a loud voice, saying, “‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ {#Ps 118:26} Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

4. Why did the religious leaders question Jesus’ authority (compare vs. 2 with 23:66-71)? They wanted to trick Him into openly admitting that He was the Messiah, for then they could deliver Him into the hands of the Romans as a traitor.

5. How did Jesus get out of the trap of the leaders (vs. 3-8)?
He asked them if they believed the gospel of John the Baptist (which was the exact same gospel that Jesus preached. The leaders refused to believe either).

“I once heard of a man who went to preach in a theatre, and when he came upon the stage he didn’t have anyone in the hall…So he got his hat and Bible and went down upon the beach, and the people were walking up and down upon the sand, and he tried to get them to hear the Word of God, but they all passed him. But soon he saw a man with a basket, that could not sell his herrings and he went up to him and he bought all the herrings; and he said to the man, ‘Now go and give them away freely to the people.’ ‘Do you want me to give them away?’ Why, the man was astonished. He had never heard of such a thing before. ‘Yes, I want you to give them away.’ And the man started and he cried out ‘Herrings for nothing! Herrings for nothing!’ But he could not get a man or woman to take any. And he came back and he said, ‘I never saw so many fools; there isn’t one of them that will take a herring.’ ‘Well,’ said the minister, ‘I will go down with you.’ And so he went crying, ‘Herrings for nothing! Herrings for nothing!’ But they would not take any they didn’t believe it was true” (D. L. Moody’s sermon, “The Blessed Gospel”).

6. To whom is the parable spoken (vs. 9)? The people gathered at the Temple in preparation for Passover.

7. Who is this parable about (vs. 19)? The leadership of the nation which was rejecting Jesus as the Messiah.

Jesus will be our judge, whether we recognize Him as such or not.

8. What is the point of the parable (vs. 16-18)? The “in” crowd who was rejecting the Messiah would be destroyed and others would receive their place in the kingdom. Psalm 118:22 is quoted here by Jesus. It is also quoted in 1 Peter 2:7 in a passage where Peter points out that we as believers will be rejected by men just as Jesus was but that we are now the people of God and need to live so that even when we are rejected by men, those who reject us will see our manner of life and recognize Christ in us.

9. Who are the “others” in verse 16? It is all who believe in Jesus as the Messiah but this word had real meaning for the “out” crowd, the Gentiles.

“There was a time when England wanted to conquer Wales, but they wouldn’t be conquered. They couldn’t subdue these Welsh people. They didn’t want to be ruled by England. They wanted a king of their own. They wanted a king born on Welsh soil. So the queen went down to Wales, to the Castle Caernarnvon, and when the child was born the king took the little child in his arms and carried it out to the gates, and the people in the town gathered around that castle, and he says: ‘Behold your prince! He can’t speak a word of English. He was born among you-born on Welsh soil.’ And they called him the Prince of Wales, and so the Crown Prince has ever since been called the Prince of Wales; but the moment he takes the throne he drops that name and become the King of England” (D. L. Moody’s sermon “Christ of the New Testament).

There was a time when God wanted to save this world, but we would not be saved. We would not submit our ways to He who seems so far away. So God came and became a man. He became one of us so that He could become our King. The insiders, those who should have honored Him as King and Messiah rejected and crucified Him. We as sinful outsiders have now the opportunity to believe on Him and submit ourselves to the King of Kings and to be forgiven and to live a life in the service of the King.

Easter Sermon 2010 April 21, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Easter, Religion, Resurrection, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Sermons, Seven Churches of Revelation.
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WHO WAS DEAD AND CAME TO LIFE
Revelation 2:8-11

Sometimes we know part of the story, but not all of it. FamilyLife magazine, February, 1995 tells “…the story of a grandfather who wanted to know how much his four-year-old granddaughter knew about the Easter story. When he saw little Julie playing in the backyard with her friends, he asked them, “Who knows why we celebrate Easter every year?” One of Julie’s friends chirped up first: “Oh, that’s when you go to the mall and sit on the big bunny rabbit’s lap and tell him what you want in your Easter basket.” Her second friend’s answer was no better: “No, no, no! It’s when you get a tree and hang eggs on it—and you wake up on Sunday and there are presents underneath it.”
At that point Grandpa interrupted and gently said, “That’s a good guess, but it’s not quite right. Julie, do you know why we celebrate Easter?” Julie nodded her head. “It’s when Jesus was crucified. He died, and His disciples put his body in the grave. They rolled a big stone in front of the opening. And the guards went to sleep. On the third day, there was a big earthquake and the stone rolled away.”
Hearing all that, Grandpa was really encouraged that Julie knew so much of the Easter story. Then she continued, “When the earthquake happened, the entire town came out by the grave. And if Jesus came out and saw his shadow, they knew there would be six more weeks of winter!”
Young Julie knew a lot about Easter but she had misunderstood a key element. Because she had misunderstood, Easter’s meaning was changed. I believe most of us understand the key element of Easter. He who was dead came to life. It is the message of the resurrected Christ. That message changed everything. When Christ rose from the dead, He changed our view of death, He changed our view of this life, and He changed our view of the life to come.

These changes, however, are not just changes of understanding but are practical changes that affect the way that live. Jesus to the church of Smyrna applies His resurrection to the lives of the believers there in this passage.
I. The resurrected Christ has changed our view of death (vs. 8). Now there were resurrections before in the Old Testament as well as during the life of Christ but the resurrection of Christ is different. He never died again. He lives today after two thousand years. Because of His resurrection, we view death differently.

a. We view death from the outside (vs. 8a). It is hard for us to comprehend death. Milton Mayer once wrote in an essay “On Death”, “Death is the one idea that has no history. We do not know what to say about death because we do not know what to think about it, and we do not know what to think about it because we do not know what it is.”

The very name Smyrna reminds us that we do not know how to deal with death. The city was named for a substance, myrrh, used as a perfume as well as for anointing a dead body before burial. Burial practices around the world reflect this difficulty of dealing with death. Boettner writes in his book, “Immortality”, that in Greenland a deceased child was provided at burial with a dog to act as its guide in the hereafter. Religion seeks a purpose in death. Some promise a rebirth, others a happy future. Modern man has given up and concluded that death is simply the end and has no purpose.

b. Jesus, however, reveals to us a view of death from eternity (vs. 8b). He is the First and the Last. This title comes from the book of Isaiah where Yahweh tells His people that He is God and there is no one like Him. Isaiah 44:6b-7 says,
“I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
And who can proclaim as I do?
Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me,
Since I appointed the ancient people.
And the things that are coming and shall come,
Let them show these to them.
Do not fear, nor be afraid;
Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?”
You see, He existed before death and will exist after death has ceased. He is the one who allows death to exist and He allows death to exist because it fits into His eternal purpose. To adapt a saying from St. Augustine, “God judges it better to bring life out of death than to suffer no death to exist.”

That does not mean that we always understand His purpose. That is the point Isaiah is making. No one, no god, devil, man, or angel can set in order for the First and the Last the events of time or eternity and we certainly cannot discover the purpose of death. That had to be revealed to us through Jesus Christ, the First and Last.

c. Jesus Christ, the First and Last, however, is not a puppeteer playing with us, pulling our strings, very much in control but outside the play. No, He views death from the inside (vs. 8c). All men, Christians included must stop at the gate of death and say, “I do not know…” We can define and describe love, hate, exhilaration, and despair but we do not know from personal experience what it means to die. Jesus Christ, however, knows what it means to die. He knows what it means to suffer our fate. He knows what it means because He experienced it. He plays by the rules that He set for us. He took the medicine that each of us is scheduled to take.

“Joseph Damien was a missionary in the nineteenth century who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii…One morning before he was to lead them in their daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more boiling water on the same spot. No feeling whatsoever. Damien immediately knew what had happened. As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began every sermon with, ‘My fellow believers,’ But this morning he began with, ‘My fellow lepers.’”

Without the death of Christ, I could not know the love of God for me. So now I have a different view of death. I still do not know it by experience but I understand now its purpose in revealing God’s love to me.

II. The resurrected Christ has changed our view of life on earth (vs. 9-10).

a. For us life is about this world (vs. 9). It does not matter whether you are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick, selfish or giving, surrounded by friends or isolated in loneliness, our life is about this world. These people were no different. Jesus said, I know your works, I know how you go about your daily life, I know your tribulations, I know the things that you are facing in the world, I know your poverty, how that you have lost jobs and family because of your faith in me, I know your present circumstances. I know about your enemies, people who claim to believe in me but are children of the devil. I know what they have planned for you, I know how long your trials are going to last, I know your future. But do not fear. Jesus addressed their present circumstances and their future danger. He did not call them to put on heavenly sunglasses and forget about the glare of this world.

b. What He did do is put this life in perspective for them. This life is about winning eternal life through lasting faith in Christ (vs. 10). That is why He was able to say, “Do not fear!” Jesus did not say, “I am going to deliver you out of your trouble.” Sometimes he does deliver us but often He does not because life is not about living without troubles and trials, without sorrow and pain. Life for the believer is about a constant faith, an enduring faith in Christ. That is why the Bible warns against a faith that does not last. The faith that does not last is not a real faith and will result in destruction. So my life is not about church or family or country or career or hobbies or friends or health or about myself. My life is to be about a constant display of my faith in Christ. Because He lives, I can live with a purpose, I can live the life of faith in Him, confident that when I die, I will receive the victor’s crown of eternal life.

III. That is what I mean when I say that the resurrected Christ has changed our view of life after death (vs. 10-11). In Christ, I have a new life, a resurrected life.

a. The resurrected life is victorious (vs. 10). One of the characters in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” Mr. Valiant-for-Truth was summoned home to the Celestial City. “He called his friends and told them of it. Then, said he, ‘I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am…My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me, that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder.’…many accompanied him to the river side into which as he went he said, ‘Death, where is thy sting?’ And as he went down deeper, he said, ‘Grave, where is thy victory?’ So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.”

“…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

b. Resurrected life is protected from the second death (vs. 11). Our text says, shall not be hurt. This word is found in the New Testament, primarily in the book of Revelation. The second death is described for us in Revelation 20. It is the lake of fire, the place of damnation. But the believer in Christ is protected. Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

I may die physically but the resurrected Christ, the one who was dead and came to life promises to protect me from the second death. I may suffer now in some way or another but my hope for the future is the healing leaves of the tree of life, not the eternal hurt inflicted by the second death.
What is your view of death? Do you see in it God’s love for you in that He died for you?
What is your view of life? Do you see in it the opportunity to exercise constant faith in Christ?
What is your view of the life to come? Do you see victory and rest from your labors here?
If not, you can. You can begin today your walk of faith in Christ. You can begin today to experience God’s love. You can begin today to live for eternity. The resurrected Christ has made this possible. Trust Him today!

The Son of Man March 21, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Crucifixion, Daniel, Day of the Lord, Death of Christ, Eschatology, John's Gospel, Religion, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Sermons, Son of Man.
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THE SON OF MAN
Revelation 1:9-20

This past week we heard of the passing of Peter Graves of “Mission Impossible” fame. What I did not know was that his real name was Peter Aurness. He was the younger brother of James Arness who was famous as Matt Dillon of the TV series, “Gunsmoke.” Mr. Graves, however, took a professional name. Through his career, he infused that name with his own persona and acting career so that now, whenever that name is mentioned, people think only of Peter Graves and rarely connect him with James Arness.

It might surprise you to find out that Jesus did something similar. Early in His ministry He began to identify Himself as the Son of Man. Earlier that term had been primarily used by God in addressing Ezekiel but it was used once in Daniel 7 as a term for the Messiah. When Jesus began His ministry, there were many other names for the Messiah that were in common use at the time: the Christ, the Son of God, the King of Israel, the King of the Jews, the Son of David. Jesus did not normally refer to Himself by any of these titles but rather used the term found in Daniel 7 and infused that term with meaning. In fact, we find here in Revelation 1, the culmination of the meaning of the title, “Son of Man,” meaning which Jesus Himself gave the term helping us to understand better who Jesus is.

I. The “Son of Man” reveals God to us (vs. 1-3, 11, 19). We saw last week from verses 1-3 that the purpose of the book of Revelation is not only to reveal to us truth about future events but also to reveal more clearly to us who Jesus is. Without the book of Revelation we would have an incomplete picture of Jesus. Verses 11 and 19 make it clear that Jesus, the Son of Man, wants us to have a clear picture of who He is. He, the Son of Man, is the Revealer of God to us.

a. He reveals God to us because He is the ladder to the Father (John 1:49-51). This passage in John’s Gospel is the first time recorded where Jesus Christ used the title “Son of Man.” He has just met Nathanael and miraculously revealed to Nathanael that He knew everything about Him. Nathanael’s response was to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, the King of Israel. Now both of those terms were common terms for the Messiah. Jesus, however, did not use either of those terms but rather referred to Himself as the Son of Man, who is the way to God.

We are all familiar with the famous words spoken by Jesus in John 14, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” John 1:18 tells us, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” These are other ways of telling us that the Son of Man is the ladder to the Father. Jesus statement to Nathanael uses the Old Testament story of Jacob’s dream at Beth-el, where he sees angels going up and down a ladder leading into heaven (Genesis 28:12). Jesus clearly points out that if you are going to see God, you must see Him through the Son of Man.

The Son of Man is in this way like the Arab guide who was asked by a visitor in the desert, “Where is the path?” The Arab guide replied, “I am the path” (adapted from page 104 of Erwin Lutzer’s “Christ Among the Gods”).

b. How then does the Son of Man reveal God? He reveals God through His death (John 3:12-15). Again, Jesus uses an Old Testament story to explain how it is that men can come to the Father. The serpent of brass was lifted up so that the Israelites could look at it and be healed of their snake bites. Jesus was lifted up on the cross so that men and women could look to Him in faith and be given eternal life.

What does the cross of the Son of Man reveal about the Father? John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 make it clear that the Father’s love is revealed through the cross. The love of God is not revealed by nature. His power and justice can be known through nature but not His love. To reveal the Father’s love, the Son of Man had to die. Notice though that He did not merely reveal an example of loving sacrifice but rather the real thing. To hang on a cross hollering, “God loves you!” is an empty gesture unless that death has a positive result for the one loved. John 3:17-18 tells us that the positive result is freedom from eternal condemnation, from perishing eternally. Romans 5:9 says that we are justified by His blood. His death frees us from condemnation. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…”

c. The Son of Man effectively reveals the Father because He, Himself is God (Matthew 9:1-8). Again, early in the ministry of Christ He uses the title Son of Man, this time infusing that title with a meaning that had never occurred to anyone before. A paralyzed man lies before Him to be healed. He tells the man, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” This riles the religious leaders who rightly recognize that no one can forgive sins but God alone. Jesus tells them, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”-then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” The people did not understand, for verse 8 says, “…they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.” We understand though with hindsight that Jesus was not only admitting that the Son of Man is God but was proving that He, the Son of Man is God.

II. Our passage in Revelation 1 recognizes that Jesus reveals the Father to man and assumes all that we have spoken of but the primary emphasis of this passage and of the book of Revelation as a whole is slightly different than that of John and Matthew. The “Son of Man” in the book of Revelation is the one who judges the wicked at His coming (Cf. vs. 13-16 with 14:14-16). We have already seen that Jesus came the first time, not to condemn or to judge but to save men and women from condemnation and judgment. Between the time of John’s gospel and the future time discussed in Revelation, something has changed. We see the Son of Man at His second rather than at His first coming.

a. The seat of judgment is His rightful place because He is the Son of Man (Cf. John 5:22-27 with Daniel 7:13-14, 23-27). Notice that He has authority in John 5:22-25 as the Son of God to judge. He has this authority for two reasons: (1) He is the Son of Man spoken of in Daniel 7, who has been given the world of men as His kingdom and dominion and (2) His task as revealer of the Father results in condemnation of everyone who rejects that revelation (John 3:19).

Now this brings up an important question. How about those who have never heard of Jesus? Romans 1 teaches us that through nature they learn enough about God to be held accountable. It is not enough to be saved but it is enough to condemn one as lost. Erwin Lutzer in “Christ Among the Gods” illustrates it this way, “If you need $1,000 for college and I give you only $100, my gift is not enough to get you into college, but it is enough to judge your response. With this $100 I can tell whether you love me or spurn me. And how you respond may determine whether or not you ever receive the full amount” (page 189).

That is why it is so vitally important that we get the message of Christ to our family and friends and loved ones. Unless they hear the message of Christ and receive that message, they will be condemned by Christ when He comes into His kingdom. There is a reason this road is called Narrow and the road to destruction is called Broad.

b. The Son of Man is prepared for the judgment day (Cf. 1:13-16 with Daniel 10:5-6 and Rev.15:6-7). The description we have of the Son of Man emphasizes that He is coming again as judge. This description is pretty close to one we have in Daniel 10 of a man in linen. In Daniel 12 this man appears again in relation to the three and a half year period we know as the tribulation. In Revelation 15:6-7 we have seven angels with the last judgments of God dressed similarly in linen with a gold band across their chests. What we have here are indications that the Son of Man in Revelation 1 is prepared for the final judgment. My daughter asked me the other day as we were reading a Bible story book, if the picture accurately depicted how Jesus dressed while here on earth. My guess was no but I do know how Jesus will appear when He judges this earth. However, He will be prepared appropriately for the judgment that He metes out.

His white hair indicates the wisdom of age, His piercing eyes the omniscience of His knowledge of us. His feet like brass indicate the authority of His judgment, His loud voice the exercise of that authority. His two-edged sword out of His mouth illustrates the decisiveness of His Word of judgment and His glowing face, the glory of His place as the Son of Man (see Matthew 16:27-17:2). In other words, everything He needs to exercise proper judgment on this world, He already has. He is simply waiting for the right time.

III. The “Son of Man” has a message for those who claim to be His servants (Revelation 1:1, 12-13, 16, 20). That is why this passage concerns us. We at Grace Bible Church claim to be servants of God just as each of these seven churches, the seven lampstands claimed to be servants of God. Jesus had a particular message for each of them.

For some it was a message of hope. Seven times He says to the churches in chapters 2 and 3, “To him who overcomes…” For the true believer life on this evil earth has both dangers and temptations. Those who remain true to their faith in Christ “…shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels (Revelation 3:5). In Luke 12:8 Jesus reserves this responsibility for the Son of Man. What is your trial? By what are you tempted? Jesus Christ will stay true to you. He is your hope. Stay true to Him!

For others it was a message of judgment. To the church of Thyatira, the church that had most forsaken the truth, He describes Himself as “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass” (3:18). If you, even though you may claim faith in Christ, if you turn from that faith or live in a way that contradicts that faith, “…all…shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts” (3:23). In other words, you will be judged.

For most all of them, it was a message of warning. These warnings were concerning true doctrine, the doctrine of Christ as well as concerning our attitudes toward Christ and toward ourselves. Do you take your faith seriously? Do you live according to your faith in Christ or do you live in love with this world? If you love this world then there is a warning for you in this book.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His glorious face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”